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Politics & Money

OCC’s Otting steps down one day after releasing Community Reinvestment Act reform

Brian Brooks to take over upon Otting’s departure

Just one day after unveiling sweeping reforms to the Community Reinvestment Act, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting has stepped down from his role as one of the nation’s top banking regulators.

On Wednesday, Otting’s OCC released its final rule on “strengthening and modernizing” the CRA, which requires banks to meet the credit needs of all communities they serve, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

The OCC released the final rule without the agreement of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which stated that it would rather see banks focus on helping their customers during the pandemic instead of focusing on complying with new rules.

Nonetheless, the OCC moved forward with the rule alone, in what proved to be Otting’s final major act as comptroller.

The OCC announced Thursday that Otting is stepping down from the agency on May 29, 2020.

Brian Brooks, who joined the OCC in March as its chief operating officer and first deputy comptroller, will serve as acting comptroller of the currency, as was expected.

Brooks and Otting both previously worked with Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at OneWest Bank. Mnuchin and his partners at Dune Capital Management formed OneWest after buying the remains of IndyMac Federal Bank from the FDIC in 2009. Mnuchin and his partners later sold OneWest to CIT Group in 2015

Otting served as the CEO of OneWest from 2010 until 2015, while Brooks served as OneWest’s vice chairman and chief legal officer.

And now, Brooks is replacing Otting at the OCC.

“It has been my distinct honor to serve the United States and this Administration as the 31st Comptroller of the Currency,” Otting said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of what the women and men of the agency have accomplished to promote economic opportunity, eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden, and operate the agency in a more effective and efficient manner.”

Both Otting and Mnuchin expressed confidence that Brooks will serve the administration well as the new head of the OCC.

“The agency and the nation are fortunate that the OCC has a deep bench,” Otting said. “Brian and the Executive Committee are extremely well suited to continue the agency’s important work and succeed in its mission of ensuring banks operate in a safe, sound, and fair manner. Most importantly these leaders can depend on the 3,600 dedicated OCC professionals who thanklessly and tirelessly serve this nation by ensuring our federal banking system remains the world’s envy and capable of meeting the financial needs of Americans everywhere from Main Street to Wall Street, just as the agency has for 157 years.”

Brooks left OneWest in 2014 to become Fannie Mae’s executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. After holding that role for nearly four years, Brooks left Fannie Mae to become the chief legal officer of Coinbase.

And earlier this year, Brooks rejoined Otting at the OCC.

“I am confident that Brian will lead the agency effectively during this challenging time,” Mnuchin said in a statement. “He recognizes the importance of a robust federal banking system to the health and strength of the nation’s economy and has the skills and experience to succeed in this important role.”

Mnuchin also thanked Otting for his two-and-a-half years leading the OCC.

“I want to thank Joseph Otting for his dedicated service as Comptroller of the Currency,” Mnuchin said. “Under his leadership, the agency modernized Community Reinvestment Act rules for the federal banking system, increased access to credit and capital for underserved communities, increased safeguards to the banking system from criminal and terrorist activity, reduced the cost of supervision on America’s banks, and helped the OCC operate more effectively. We are grateful for his commitment to Treasury and our nation.”

According to the Treasury Department, Otting plans to return to the private sector upon his departure from the OCC next week.

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